In life she was a true diva, wowing fans across the globe with her sensational singing voice, so it’s only fitting that Aretha Franklin should be given a send-off befitting her status as the undisputed Queen of Soul.
It came as a surprise to loyal fans of the ‘Natural Woman’ singer, as they arrived to pay their respects on the final day of public viewing, when they saw that Aretha’s family had chosen to change her outfit, according to US showbiz magazine People. Honouring her penchant for flamboyant stage outfits, Aretha’s loved ones reportedly swapped the bold scarlet dress and ruby red stilettos from the previous day for a pastel blue dress and matching heeled shoes.
Crowds of fans queued for hours again on Wednesday for the chance to pay their respects to the legendary soul singer, as her body laid in state in her beloved home city of Detroit, Michigan.
The Queen of Soul’s family made the decision to invite fans, and the media, to mourn the R-E-S-P-E-C-T singer over two days, with Franklin resplendent in an ornate 24-carat gold plated casket, surrounded by lavish arrangements of her favourite flowers.
While black is still a common colour choice for funerals, Aretha’s family honoured her flamboyant style by selecting two colourful outfits for her final public appearance at Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, telling the Associated Press that it was something she “would have chosen for herself”.
Positioned with her legs crossed at the ankles, Aretha was dressed in a pair of high-heeled stilettos in a metallic shade of ruby red for the first day of public viewing, which is said to have matched her striking red lipstick and nail polish.
The red dress was symbolic of her membership in the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, which fights for the rights of African American women. She had been transported to the museum in a classic white LaSalle Sedan, The Sun reported, and her shining coffin was snapped by crowds of photographers and admirers as it was wheeled in to the building.
The singer, who passed away at the age of just 76, was surrounded by roses in shades of lilac and pink, arranged in enormous displays similar to those she preferred to send loved ones. Sabrina Owens, Franklin’s niece, said: “After all she gave to the world, I felt we needed to give her an appropriate send-off that would match her legacy. She loved the city of Detroit and the city of Detroit loved her.”
Aretha’s funeral is scheduled to take place on Friday with huge stars, including Chaka Khan and Jennifer Hudson, confirmed to be performing during the service, as mourners turn out to say their final farewell to Aretha.
She passed away on August 16 following a battle with pancreatic cancer. At the time her family said in a statement: “It is with deep and profound sadness that we announce the passing of Aretha Louise Franklin, the Queen of Soul.
“In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.”